Elderly Flood Victims Home For ChristmasDecember 18, 2010 - 2:40 PM | by: Brooks Blanton
Claudine and Omer Malone are happy to be celebrating their 47th Christmas at their Bellevue, Tennessee home. The 89-year-old couple has been married for 71 years and they have lots of Christmas memories with their children and grandchildren in the three bedroom ranch about 25 miles east of downtown Nashville.
The Malones barely escaped floodwaters from a creek that rushed over its banks behind their house last May. Historic rains caused rivers and creeks to swell all over Middle Tennessee as flooding waters destroyed everything in its path.
While covering the historic floods on May 7th, I found the Malone’s grandson, John Singleton inside their destroyed home. He was working with the help of a few volunteers to gut the house and pile his grandparent’s ruined belongings along the street to be taken away as trash.
“There was about two feet of water standing in the house and my grandmother asked me ‘do you think you could get my chest that has the pictures…the old pictures,” Singleton said to me as he stopped to take a break from the work.
Besides the clothes on their backs, he said the only thing his grandparents were able to save from their 71 years of married life was that old chest of pictures. Like tens of thousands of others around the state, they didn’t have flood insurance and they lost everything.
“Everything here is a loss pretty much. And we’re just – the family’s just gonna come together and we’re gonna make it happen somehow,” Singleton said.
We returned to Nashville to last week to report on how Tennesseans were faring after seven months of rebuilding. Country music superstar Garth Brooks is holding a series of benefit concerts to help the thousands of people who are still struggling to put their lives back together.
We pulled up to Claudine and Omer Malone’s house to find them home. They had been living with family and friends while their house was completely gutted and rebuilt and the last three months, they insisted on living in a camper parked in their back yard. But last Monday the couple finally moved back into their house. They are still working to replace all the furniture, housewares and clothes they lost.
“It’s hard to lose everything, just the small things,” Claudine Malone said. “You’d be surprised when you lose everything. It’s the little things that mean so much.”
Just like newlyweds who are moving into their very first house, the Malones spent much of last week unpacking boxes, rearranging furniture and trying to figure out where their new dishes will go. But one thing they know for sure, the Christmas tree and all its new decorations, will stand in front of the big picture window in the living room just like it has for the past 47 years.
“We are tickled to death to be in here,” said Omer Malone, who hasn’t lost his sense of humor in spite of everything. “We’ll be here for Christmas as long as we don’t have another flood.”
Flood victims still needing help should contact The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee at 615-321-4939.